What is CMYK and Why is It Important for Custom Packaging?

Have you ever heard of RGB, CMYK, Pantone, or RAL? Each of these is a type of color system. Color systems help make color more objective since colors come across differently on print and screens and vary from screen to screen. By giving specific names or codes to each shade of color possible, designing anything with color becomes more accessible and standardized. When creating custom packaging boxes, your designer will almost certainly be working with the CMYK color system. Because of this, you’ll need to understand the CMYK color system to most accurately convey which colors you’d like for your custom mailer boxes or custom retail boxes

What is CMYK?

CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). Black is labeled as key in this color system since B already denotes “blue” in other color systems, namely the RGB color system. Whereas the RGB (red, green, blue) color system is primarily used for digital media, CMYK is the standard for print media such as custom packaging boxes.

CMYK for print

If you own a home printer, you may be familiar with the four ink colors you need to purchase: blue (cyan), pink (magenta), yellow, and black (key). These are the same four colors fundamentally needed for all printing, including professional custom packaging manufacturing. This is because the four-ink CMYK system is the most efficient way to create all possible colors on a white surface. In RGB, all three colors need to be mixed to create white, making it an ink-intensive and inefficient way to print on the standard white paper. Since CMYK is a subtractive color system, a lack of ink is used to achieve white and other lighter colors. 

The use of CMYK in custom packaging

Since the RGB color system is exclusively used for digital purposes, any files with RGB color may not translate perfectly to print, resulting in inconsistent printing when creating custom product boxes. To most accurately portray the color you’re envisioning, convert any design files intended for printing to the CMYK color system. Not only does it guarantee a more accurate color output, but it also consumes less ink, making it a more cost-effective choice. If you need assistance converting your design files to CMYK or if you need design experts to create the final design for you based on your vision, consult the experts at Build A Box. Our design team is always available and ready to help you execute your vision for custom shipping boxes with logos.

To get started building your custom packaging box, check out Build A Box’s online design tool. You can also give us a call at (888) 406-1610 or fill out our online contact form to speak with one of our design experts and receive personalized assistance. We’re always happy to answer any of your questions and provide a free quote for a range of quantities. No minimum order quantity is required!